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12-17-2018, 02:02 AM - 2 Likes   #1
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Oldies do wonders? Steinheil Culmigon 4.5/35mm

Probably some forum members have already noticed a few of my posts regarding vintage lenses.
I love them, both because of the way they are made and how they look, and also because they often give the kind of images that you won't get from modern lenses.
Don't get me wrong, far from saying that vintage lenses are better, I just like to have the chance to choose.
Some very good - and usually expensive - old primes can be sharper than some modern zooms, but this is not the point.
What attracts me is the imperfection, for example undercorrected spherical aberration, which makes bokeh so nice, and transition between different planes so smooth. Even the lack of multicoating, and the reduced contrast, can be preferable if we look for rich gray tones in a B/W conversion.
Maybe I'm influenced by my collector's alter ego, and I'm fabricating some rational reason to like them What I do know is that I have a growing interest for very old lenses made in the fifties and sixties.
I am going to post a few images, the very first test of a new (to me) Steinheil Culmigon f/4.5 35mm, to let you decide if it's worth shooting with such antiques, or if it's not really any better (in any possible way) than a cheap standard zoom.
All the pictures were shot with a K-01, handheld, using a short extension tube.
The first one is shot at f/11, and of course has more DOF.
The other two were shot wide open (f/4.5), focusing on either the stamens or the pistils. Having all of them in focus was not possible, because of the very short distance.







I should have left more background in the picture to better assess bokeh quality.
Next time...
My personal opinion? I am amazed by the decent level of sharpness, even at such extremes (MFD + tube, wide open). The lens is a 4E/4G, very asymmetric in design, and in theory should suffer a considerable degradation if used at such short distance without reversing the objective.
What's your impression?
If you want to better assess the quality, right click on the picture and choose "open in new tab". There you can left click to go to 100%.


Last edited by cyberjunkie; 12-17-2018 at 08:50 AM.
12-17-2018, 04:23 AM   #2
GUB
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It probably hasn't rewarded you much for going to f11 has it. But somehow the point of this old glass is wide open.
12-17-2018, 07:21 AM   #3
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I did some playing around recently with a Steinheil Cassarit, maybe 45mm f3.5?
I learned two things...
1-It isnít nearly as nice a lens as I had hoped, with low contrast and pretty poor sharpness
2-The K-01 is a great platform for dorking around with old lenses since thereís no mirror

I guess I also learned that playing with old lenses is fun, even if they arenít awesome...

-Eric
12-17-2018, 08:10 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by GUB Quote
It probably hasn't rewarded you much for going to f11 has it. But somehow the point of this old glass is wide open.
In fact, the last two pictures are wide open.
I like them better, because the plane of focus is so thin. The background looks better too.

If you take a look at the little slice that is in focus, in the second and third picture, you will notice how decent is the sharpness, even using the lens at a conjugate it was not designed for.
A 35mm is not the kind of lens you would buy for bokeh, but I have seen examples shot with similar optics that have a great out of focus rendition, considering the focal.
The optical design often tells a lot about what a certain lens is capable of.
Sometimes don't (not all the Triplets do bokeh balls like the Trioplan).
I bought this lens because it has the same design of the Meyer Primagon 4.5/35mm, that gives a wonderful bokeh (for a 35mm).
I will check how it fares at more conventional distances. For the moment, the main difficulty is focusing in low light with such small max aperture.


Last edited by cyberjunkie; 12-17-2018 at 08:38 AM.
12-17-2018, 08:16 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by TwoUptons Quote
The K-01 is a great platform for dorking around with old lenses since there’s no mirror
I'll agree with that. I use my K-01 with homemade lenses to accurately see the effects of their "bad" uncorrected coma and other abberations that I can't see through the viewfinder of a dslr:

12-17-2018, 08:21 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by TwoUptons Quote
I did some playing around recently with a Steinheil Cassarit, maybe 45mm f3.5?
Yes, I have that lens. never tried it though.
I guess I will, sooner or later...
I tried the similar Cassar and Cassaron 50mm.
It is NOT a substitute for the Trioplan. It is not sharper, it suffers a lot from flare/low contrast, and it's not very good at making soap bubble bokeh.
The tendency to flare so easily can be used to to one's advantage though. I have a few shots that are kind of crazy, and I like them
Like most old lenses, in some specific situations its defects can be turned into assets.
"Learning" all of my old lenses is beyond my time, capability and patience... so I choose which ones are worth experimenting with, and sometimes it pays off
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